Direct Observation as a Teaching & Assessment Tool

Direct Observation as a Teaching and Assessment Tool

I intend to explore the use of direct observation as a teaching and assessment tool as well as a means of empowerment. This will only be an overview. Observation as a concept, it’s place in our organisation, the purpose of thoughtful planning and evaluation of the students and Designated Agency Supervisor’s comments with regard to the observation feedback will be examined. Finally I will summarise what I wish to take forward from this process.

The Tavistock Clinic and CCETSW made the decision in the late eighties following a series of investigations into the deaths of children to provide infant and child observation training for social work tutors and practitioners. The main outcomes of the investigations were the need to improve the quality of assessment skills, a real understanding of child development and a failure to keep the chid ‘in mind’ (Le Riche, Tanner 1988).   In 1989 the newly introduced Diploma in Social Work by the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW) was the first social work qualification in the United Kingdom which required that students practice be directly observed (CCETSW, 1989).   The new BA and MA Social work degree in 2003 continued the requirement that there must be a minimum of three assessed direct observations of practice in each of the two assessed practice experiences.

I have not had the experience of being observed and receiving feedback within a Social Work Training Programme. I have however as an adult learner, been professionally observed by both trainers and peers with feedback being given, on many occasions over the years in the contexts of nursing, counselling, teaching and systemic training. I am aware of the personal impact of the process upon myself and that I valued the process as a learning experience which assisted in personal development and change. I became aware that there needed to be relevant, purposeful planning and considered...